Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has targeted İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu for a visit to Diyarbakır where he met with Kurdish mayors who have been removed from office by the government, according to the Artı Gerçek news website.
“Mind your own business,” Soylu said at a conference in Bursa province. “If you don’t, we’ll make your life miserable.”
The minister reiterated that the mayors were linked to a terrorist group, adding that İmamoğlu “must know his place.”
Last weekend İmamoğlu met with Ahmet Selçuk Mızraklı and Ahmet Türk, the former mayors of Diyarbakır and Mardin, respectively.
The Interior Ministry on Aug. 19 removed the mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van for alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terror group.
The PKK has been waging a bloody insurgency for decades in Turkey’s Southeast and is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, the European Union and Turkey.
Kurdish politicians from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have often been investigated for their alleged ties to the PKK, although the former is a legitimate political party in the Turkish parliament.
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) increased its support for Kurdish politicians after the removal of the mayors to repay the Kurdish voters who were decisive in March’s local elections in İstanbul and Ankara.
The CHP with its right-wing ally the İYİ (Good) Party took over the İstanbul and Ankara municipalities from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the local elections.